So you want an easy entry point to bring VoIP into your enterprise? As you heard from our May 18 announcement, we added the IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client license to our Sametime product family. This easy-to-deploy VoIP solution quickly adds many softphone capabilities directly to your users' desktops right from their Sametime Connect client. We just posted a demonstration of how this works to YouTube. Take a look, and let us know what you think!
IBM has submitted quite a few sessions for the upcoming SXSW Interactive Festival 2012. Many IBMers tend to go to this event, and this year we have 5 submissions from Team IBM. And for the first time this year, our own Caleb Barlow has also submission a topic for presentation: Enterprise-grade Social Communicationshttp://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10749 . This year's SXSWi continues to include input from the public on which sessions should be included. Audience votes count for 30% of the score used to decide whether a session is accepted for the event. We would love your vote, of course :-) Just register for the SXSWi Panel Picker and add your voice to the selection process.
Sheri Branco over at the Sametime Design Blog on IBM developerWorks is asking our users to participate in an online survey. We would like to better understand the relative importance of the tasks you use Sametime for every day. We would love to hear your feedback. Click above to participate.
A recently released video where John Glowacki of CSC, and Rob Schoenfelt of Celina Insurance discuss how IBM Sametime and IBM help them drive real business benefits from becoming more social businesses. Also included is Steve Ressler talking about how IBM helped GovLoop as well.
Today IBM announced enhanced capabilities for mobile collaboration. Customers can easily download the software from all major app stores
including Android, Apple, and BlackBerry, and gain immediate access to
blogs, employee data, status updates, wikis, as well as share files,
videos and photos. This includes IBM Sametime enterprise instant messaging and IBM Sametime Unified Telephony dialers for Android, and IBM Sametime meetings on the BlackBerry. IBM is also helping IT administrators simplify
the management of corporate and personal data on employee devices. by allowing employees, customers and partners to collaborate more effectively while on mobile devices.
You can read a more in-depth analysis of this announcement, and why we're so excited about it, on Todd Watson's Turbo Todd Blog. As always, we would love your feedback: how are YOU using mobile collaboration in your business environment?
I spend a great deal of my time working with our sellers. They come to me with all sorts of requests ranging from answers and statements they can provide their customers to advise in building use cases to address specific customer requirements. Sometimes the questions are fairy straightforward. Sometimes they're pretty arcane and hard to answer but, after a few iterations, we always end up finding an answer.
Sometimes the answer is not what they would like to hear. When that happens, I can picture them figuring out how to tell the customer what they just learned. I've learned to appreciate the effort and the stress they have to undergo to keep an opportunity alive even despite our product not being able to fulfill a specific use case. More importantly, I've learned to appreciate the way they get up in the morning and go do it again; every day until the opportunity either materializes or it fizzles out.
If I haven't said this before, to our sellers (and to all software sellers out there), please know that I appreciate what you do and, in the spirit of at least making you chuckle a little, I thought I'd share this little snippet of wisdom from the one and only Scott Adams:
Interested in implementing unified communications, but concerned about cost and deployment resources? A cloud-based unified communications strategy could dramatically lower your infrastructure and other fixed asset costs, while offering a flexible deployment model. Leverage the power of the cloud to collaborate! On August 30 at 12noon Eastern US time, please join speakers from IBM, and IBM Business Partner Meetrix, to learn about UC as a Service (UCaaS), powered by IBM Sametime. Register here for free access today. Speakers to be confirmed shortly.
#socbiz #ITEXPO FYI, folks. In case you're attending or in case you happen to be in the area, the ITEXPO West 2011 conference is coming to Austin. The conference will take place at the Austin Convention Center from September 13 to 15 and it promises to bring together lots of industry heavyweights as well as interesting newcomers. This year ITEXPO will feature keynotes from IBM (Mike McCarthy, VP of Cloud Computing Services as well as from Polycom and Siemens.
Mike Ross from 4PSA and Tim Wittbrod from Interactive Intelligence will join me in a discussion on one of my favorite topics: the role of unified communications in social work patterns--precisely what I've been blogging about in the last few weeks.
I submitted this topic to the conference back in April (I think). I wanted to discuss the fundamental differences between the natural way in which humans interact, a.k.a. people-to-people interactions and the artificial way in which we've forced ourselves to interact at work. The conference was nice enough to accept my abstract and they invited Mike and Tim to join in.
As you know, we work very closely with Interactive Intelligence and we've talked about people-centric business processes in the context of what we do together. The conference is placing our session under the Social CRM track, which could not be more appropriate. I have not met Tim and Mike but I'm sure this will be a productive and enlightening conversation.
Our session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13 from 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM. You may also want to check out other sessions from IBM and from our business partners by visiting the conference program page.
Please join Karl LaWall, Worldwide Sales Leader for Unified Communications and Collaboration Software, at 12noon ET on August 24 for a free webcast (registration required), "Putting social to action with Sametime". Karl will demonstrate live the latest capabilities of Sametime 8.5.2. See how these latest capabilities can help you become a more social business: find and connect with experts more quickly, speed decision-making, and improve productivity, while lowering telephone costs, travel costs and total cost of ownership.
I've seen Karl do lots of these live demos using our free Greenhouse service. His sessions are always very interactive and engaging. I highly recommend it.
#ibmsocialbiz As many of you know, we've been working with Interactive Intelligence in integrating their CIC contact center suite with Sametime. The integration allows contact center agents to tap into expertise beyond their immediate reach.
The expertise location pattern is critical to improving customer satisfaction, up-selling and cross-selling, and to keeping customer-facing business processes moving. That's exactly what the CIC-Sametime integration does. Our friends at InIn produced this nice video illustrating how the integration works. Take a look:
This is my second posting on the role UC plays on the path to Social Business. In my previous post I discussed the roadmap to becoming a Social Business. The roadmap, as you may recall, has four steps: emphasize people-to-people interactions, retrofit existing people networks, help people extend their organizational reach and enable newly created people networks to function. Well, today I want to talk about the first step.
The first step towards becoming a Social Business involves seeding the behavior needed to make the transition from people-to-process and people-to-information to people-to-people interactions. Emphasizing people-to-people interactions is key to introducing social interaction patterns in environments where people don't always know each other. This is how we transplant the natural behavior humans exhibit in their own social groups into a work environment where they spend most of their time surrounded by perfect strangers.
Social interaction patterns are natural to us and they start with people. Under this paradigm, information and process are mere attributes. When we interact with friends and family we start with the person. When a child is hungry he will most likely yell out "Mom, I'm hungry. What's for dinner...!" He starts with the person (his mother), then provides status information (he communicates that he's hungry), and then requests data from the other person (he asks what his mother is preparing for dinner).
This type of interaction, a people-to-people interaction, is more efficient than finding out, first, who's cooking dinner, then letting that person know that one is hungry to verify that there's a match between an empty stomach and freshly-prepared food, and finally asking what that food actually is. At work, we've done this for years. We've been trained to think in terms of information and process first and then to consider who can provide the information or who can make something happen in the context of a business process. After a few trials we identify a go-to-person and that person becomes part of our immediate people network. Then we no longer base our interactions with that person on process or information. We call on them first and then ask for information. In other words, we gravitate to the type of interaction that comes natural to our species.
The technology we've used at work so far has not been flexible enough to facilitate people-to-people interactions. The consumer space, on the other hand, has built solutions to enable people-to-people interactions beyond the people networks we can build within our immediate surroundings. Now we can initiate people-to-people interactions with remote parties through various channels. Facebook, for instance, provides asynchronous channels for exchanging status information and it also provides real-time channels to exchange data as needed. Twitter allows broadcasting information to multiple parties in real time. These are social interaction patterns and most people already understand how the technology that enables those patterns work. In other words, the behavior is already there.
Since the behavior is there, all that's needed now is to enable it at work. All we need to do is help people exercise the same social interaction patterns they rely on to interact with friends and family with the people they work with. The goal is to infuse the enterprise with the same degree of efficiency social interaction patterns give us in our daily lives.
This is the first step of embracing change. It means letting people use the tools that let them interact with each other naturally. Ten years ago many companies regarded instant messaging as a toy and labeled it a distraction. Now I'm sure there are very few companies out there that have not embraced instant messaging. Most companies, I'm sure, would agree that they could not do business today without it. The same applies to people-to-people interactions and the technology that enables them.
So, what to do? As part of the need to embrace change, I say don't be afraid of letting people be people. Let your employees interact with each other as people. Let them exercise people-to-people interactions at work. Let them use Facebook, let them tweet, let them leverage instant messaging, email and the telephone to enrich their interactions with colleagues, customers and business partners. That's what emphasizing people-to-people interactions means.
In my next posting I will discuss what happens when the behavior has been seeded and internalized. Stay tuned.
Back in 2010 we released a detailed IBM Sametime Reviewers' Guide for version 8.5. We just refreshed and updated the Guide for the latest release, Sametime 8.5.2. This document will help you evaluate how IBM Sametime software can help you collaborate in real-time
with your professional networks. Use it to review Sametime 8.5.2's broad range of functions, and gain a better understanding of IBM Sametime 8.5/2's capabilities. And as it's an e-book, you can easily navigate from section to section. It's an excellent companion piece to our IBM Sametime product web pages and the IBM Sametime Wiki on IBM developerWorks.
#ucoms #socbiz This week, several IT industry blogs reported on the increased focus around unified communications as organizations embrace social computing in the workplace. In the first, IT Business Edge discusses in "Social Networking and Unified Communications: Catalysts for Change", the impact of unified communications on social business and cloud computing:
What Barlow is driving at is that it won’t be too long before all of these technologies combine to fundamentally change the way we all work.
The barriers to enterprise social software adoption are far more cultural than technical. Internal social networking tools make for great demos, but unified communications (UC) pros often struggle to define what problem enterprise social software is trying to solve.
#ucoms #socbiz Before announcing back at Lotusphere 2011 a new compliance solution for IBM Connections, Actiance had been an active IBM Sametime business partner for some time, specifically with their Actiance Vantage for Sametime solution. The addition of IBM Connections to the Actiance Vantage family continues to generate news, with The VAR Guy publishing an August 9 story on Actiance's plans to build a U.S. channel for its compliance software: "The VAR Guy: Social Media Compliance Vendor Builds U.S. Channel".
The collaboration between Actiance and IBM, including integration with Sametime and Connections, is highlighted:
Actiance also partners with IBM, a long-time ally. The companies have been working together in conjunction with IBM’s Sametime unified communications software. More recently, IBM announced plans to offer Actiance’s technology with IBM Connections, a social software product targeting businesses. The resulting product, Vantage for IBM Connections, will let customers archive social media content.
Whether an organization is starting a new Unified Communications (UC) project or they have already deployed some UC capability, a Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) based infrastructure can significantly drive down costs and provide greater flexibility for the future. This white paper, authored by IBM Research and GTS experts, examines the impact a SIP-based architecture can have on all aspects of the business - the infrastructure, applications and process layers of the organization. The paper explores the business and technical implications of this transformation from a services perspective and describes how a structured approach is necessary for organizations to extract the full value of the new SIP technology.
I've seen lots of references about what it means to be a Social Business and why we should care. What has been absent--at least from what I've seen--is a simple list of steps on how to get there. So--funny thing--while preparing my session for IamLUG 2011, I decided to build a roadmap.
I took what I learned last year working with the Collaboration Agenda team, I took the principles behind the Social Business message and I came up with four easy steps to becoming a Social Business:
Emphasize people-to-people interactions,
Retrofit existing people networks,
Help people extend their organizational reach,
Enable the newly created people networks to function.
Based on, literally, hundreds of case studies and customer references I got to work on last year, I can tell you that these four steps can help a company of pretty much any mid-to-large size do two things: Embrace change, and leverage their existing investments to turn themselves into social businesses.
When I talked about this at IamLUG, I got unanimous agreement that these four steps make sense. None of this is out-of-the-world pie-in-the-sky thinking. What's involved in making each one of them happen is good-ole fashion common sense and enough focus to see things through.
Embracing change involves nothing more than acknowledging that your workforce is composes of three basic constituents: people over 50 (I call them "digital immigrants"), people in the 35-to-50 age range (I call us "first-generation digital citizens), and those born after 1980, whom I call "digital natives".
Each group structures their communication channels differently: email and phone for digital immigrants, email and IM for first-generation digital citizens and social media for digital natives, and the interaction patterns they execute to work and communicate are also different: linear patterns that emphasize people-to-information and people-to-process interactions for the first two groups, and people-to-people for the third.
So, as social interaction patterns make their way into the enterprise, it is imperative that we embrace them and take advantage of their efficiency (hence step 1 above). Linear interaction patterns encourage the creation of silos and tend to keep information within close-knit people networks (hence step 2). The key to embracing change resides in shifting behavior away from linear interaction patterns and towards social interaction patterns so people find ways to break away from their silos (step 3). Once that happens and information and ideas flow freely among broader, more diverse people networks, the net result is more business value (step 4).
Leveraging what you have is nothing more than getting more out of your existing technology investments and repurposing some of it to fulfill the new challenges posed by social interaction patterns. If you happen to have IBM technology that's easier to do than if you have closed products based on proprietary architectures. It's true, our stuff is hard to install and configure but that's what allows you to customize it, repurpose it and integrate it with other things. When you have proprietary products that only do one thing the alternative is rip-and-replace.
When your email system does only email it's hard to use it for anything else, isn't it? When email is just one of the many things it can do for you, it's nice to know you don't have to replace it with something else when you need messaging capabilities in addition to specific business functionality.
When you run a UC "platform" based on open standards is nice to know you can surface its capabilities in your business applications as needed. It's also comforting to know that you can extend it to satisfy new business requirements. When you have a UC "product" you're stuck with whatever it can give you at least until the vendor upgrades it and you have to get rid of it to install the new version.
In my next posting I'll dive deep into step 1. Stay tuned.
#ucoms As you are hopefully aware, we made many enhancements in Sametime 8.5.2 that help you collaborate more effectively and easily with colleagues outside your firewall. Sametime 8.5.2 browser-based meetings with audio
and video can help you build deeper relationships with customers and business partners, eliminate
expensive monthly fees from hosted meeting services, and reduce the need for audio conferencing, voicemail, and even travel. If those weren't reason enough to buy now, here's one more.
For a limited time, the commercial IBM Passport Advantage® Relationship
Suggested Volume Prices (RSVP) and Passport Advantage Express® Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for
selected eligible new IBM Sametime Standard
for Extranet Processor Value Unit and Sametime Advanced Extranet Processor Value
Unit products have been reduced by 75%. This means it's now more cost-effective than ever to experience rich online collaboration with customers, partners, vendors and more.
Orders must be received by IBM on or after August 2, 2011 but no later than December 31, 2011. This discount is available worldwide except in Japan.
***UPDATED 2011-08-12*** For a list of eligible products, and additional details, restrictions, applicability, and all the standard legal boilerplate fine-print, please refer to the specific links provided below: